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Serle's House, Winchester

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the sale of Serle's House, Winchester; [113961]

Dr. Moonie: The decision to sell Serle's House was taken following a review which examined a number of sites upon which MOD has Museums and Regimental Headquarters in Winchester. It was concluded that all the Museums and Regimental Headquarters should be co-located in the Upper Barracks. The MOD is well aware of Serle's House status as a Grade II listed property and of its associated memorial garden and will consider disposal options that best preserve its future. Defence Estates, who are responsible for managing this disposal, are consulting with the Trustees of the Regimental Museum over the level of access required and intend to impose a restrictive covenant on the purchaser which would ensure the retention and upkeep of the memorial garden and continued access to it.

Serle's House has already attracted interest from a number of potential purchasers including Hampshire County Council. In taking forward its disposal, Defence Estates will expose the property to the open market, while seeking to ensure that the historic building and its memorial garden are protected.


Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures are being taken to protect reservists in the armed forces from dismissal by their civilian employers; and if he will make a statement. [114916]

Mr. Spellar: Reservists are afforded protection under the terms of the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985, which is sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry. This Act makes dismissal between notification of call-out and actual mobilisation a criminal offence. After demobilisation, the Act requires the employer to reinstate the reservist on

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application, or to offer him or her the most favourable alternative work available. The Act provides for a Reinstatement Committee to consider applications for reinstatement which are rejected by employers, and to make orders for reinstatement or the payment of compensation, or both. Over 5,000 reservists have been called out for service since NATO operations commenced in the former Yugoslavia. We are aware of only one application to a Reinstatement Committee in that time. It is our policy to seek the employer's agreement before any reservist is mobilised.

The National Employers' Liaison Committee (NELC) works hard to win and retain the support of employers for the Reserve Forces. NELC can also act in an advisory capacity where difficulties related to Reserve liability arise in the employer/employee relationship. Over 6,000 companies, employing around 70 per cent. of the nation's workforce, have now affirmed their support. These companies have recognised that they get a good deal from employing reservists. Reserve service teaches skills that can be used in the civilian workplace, such as teamwork, leadership, and the ability to take sound decisions quickly.

The Reserve Forces Act 1996 and subsequent legislation introduced new safeguards for employers. The Act enables employers to apply for their employees to be exempted from call-out or for that call-out to be deferred. The Reserve Forces (Call-out and Recall) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/309), enable employers to claim financial assistance to cover the costs associated with the loss of a member of staff who is mobilised for reserve service, and for any necessary retraining for that individual on his or her return to the workplace.

Live Firing Exercises

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has for (a) the suspension and (b) the termination of live firing exercises for the Royal Navy; for what reasons he has made these plans; what plans his Department has to review live firing exercises for the Royal Navy; and if he will make a statement. [114545]

Mr. Spellar: There are no plans to suspend or terminate live firing exercises for the Royal Navy, although the balance between simulation and live firing is kept under review to ensure an appropriate and cost- effective mix.

Spacie Report

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place a copy of Major-General (Retired) Spacie's report "Welfare in the Army" in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [114914]

Mr. Spellar: Major-General (Retired) Spacie was commissioned to examine the area of Welfare provision across the Army and to help formulate a conceptual framework for that provision. This work will inform the Army's personnel management policies. There are currently no plans to publish the report externally.

Naval Aircraft Repair Organisation

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) those targets of the Naval

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Aircraft Repair Organisation for 1998-99 which (i) were and (ii) were not achieved, giving the factors affecting the outcome in each case and (b) action taken by the agency to improve target achievement performance in 1999-2000; and if he will make a statement. [111762]

Dr. Moonie: Pursuant to the reply I gave on 8 March 2000, Official Report, column 708W, the Naval Repair Aircraft Organisation (NARO) was subsumed by the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) with effect from 1 April 1999. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive of DARA to write to the right hon. and learned Member.

Letter from Steve Hill to Mr. Menzies Campbell, dated 16 March 2000:

    1. I am replying to your Question to the Secretary of State for Defence about the performance of the Naval Aircraft Repair Organisation (NARO) as this matter falls within my area of responsibility as Chief Executive of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA). As you may know, the DARA subsumed the NARO with effect from 1 April 1999.

    2. The NARO's Annual Report for 1998-99 was placed in the House of Commons Library and gives full details of the Agency's performance. The NARO had five performance targets in the year 1998-99. These are listed, along with a description of the actual performance, below:

    a. Cost--Target: To achieve a full operating cost of £117.5M by 1 April 1999, assuming Constant Output.

    Performance: Target achieved

    b. Quantity--Target: To achieve 98% of the scheduled quantity of MoD sales orders in year and thereby achieve the Master Schedule.

    Performance: Target achieved

    c. Timeliness--Target: To achieve 93% of the delivery dates agreed with the MoD customer

    Performance: 73% achieved. Factors affecting this outcome included the Agency's lack of control over external input dependencies and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff.

    d. Customer Satisfaction--Target: To achieve no more than 56 customer complaints.

    Performance: Target achieved

    e. Volume--Target: To utilise 100% of the available capacity by ensuring existing, and when required, additional customers furnish the programmes of work against which resources have been allocated.

    Performance: 95% achieved. Factors affecting this outcome included delays in the migration from legacy systems to the new NARO Business System (NBS) and a shortfall in the timely arisings of repairable assets.

    As I mentioned, the NARO no longer exists. However, I can assure you that the DARA is working very hard to deliver the most flexible and cost effective support to the front line.


Central Government Expenditure

Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what was the actual total contribution from central funds to the cost of local authority expenditure in Wales in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99 and (c) 1999-2000; and what his estimate is of the contribution in 2000-01; [111616]

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Mr. Paul Murphy: The contribution from central Government towards the funding of local authority expenditure (county/county borough councils and police authorities) for 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000 is as shown. Figures for 2000-01 will be available from the National Assembly for Wales from 1 April 2000.

Central Government support (£ million) (2)Percentage of local authority expenditure (3)

(2) Central Government support includes revenue support grant, share of non-domestic rates, council tax reduction scheme grant and specific grants

(3) Local authority expenditure is the total revenue expenditure excluding interest receipts (and includes specific grants)

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